Last Wednesday on the Webmaster Central Blog, Google announced that in July 2018 page speed will become a ranking factor for mobile search. We’ve known page speed has been a ranking factor in Google SERPs since about 2010, but this marks the first time it’ll be used to rank pages on their mobile index.
So far Google has been very imaginative & are calling this the “Speed Update” (I’m guessing their creative team were busy when they came up with this) and it will be targeting slow landing pages. Due to the vague wording in Google’s statement, we’re not exactly sure what will constitute a ‘slow page’ and in typical Google fashion, there is no way for us to determine whether a page will be impacted by this algorithm update.
However, in the sea of secrecy that we have come to expect from Google, they did offer this little bit of advice for us.
“We encourage developers to think broadly how about performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics.”
So, this is pretty much a boilerplate response from Google, if they don’t tell us the minimum criteria to survive the update, surely everyone will get their pages as fast as possible just on the off-chance the algorithm could have a negative effect on their sites. And I can’t fault Google with that, page speed on mobile pages has a massive impact on user-friendliness, so if everyone gets their pages working as fast as possible that has to be a good thing for everyone using their mobile devices online!
But as important as speed will be once the update rolls out, it’s a pretty safe bet that this will be superseded by the query intent. So basically, a slow page should still rank well as long as the content is the most relevant for what the user is looking for.
I’m guessing, based on Google’s history with mobile updates (See Mobilegeddon for more on over-hyped mobile updates) that this shan’t be the end for slow pages in mobile search. But obviously, it will help to optimise all your mobile pages as much as possible before this update rolls out. Remember, anything that improves the user experience on your site is a good thing!
If you’re looking to start optimising your mobile page speed, luckily there are already a few good tools for evaluating a page’s performance, which I have put right below here for you to have a look at.
- Chrome User Experience Report, a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions.
- Lighthouse, an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages.
- PageSpeed Insights, a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimizations.
Anyway, the long and short of this is that we all have until July to get our pages working as fast & efficiently as possible, so best we crack on with that!